Fools

I wrote this one a while ago… Children are my earthly reminders that God still believes in us.    They…

Damilola

January 20, 2015

sisters

I wrote this one a while ago… Children are my earthly reminders that God still believes in us. 

 

They flurry around her like bees as she sits on the chair that was her father’s. She smiles to herself and marvels at the apt comparison. For indeed, they are bees, the worker kind and she is queen over them; it was just like her daddy used to tell her when she was only little:

“Remember that, Oma, when you own all this someday”

“You are queen and they are the bees”

“Give them only what is necessary and take from them, everything you can”

Today she was queen, just like her father had promised but oh, what a different sort of queen. The bees had become more than mere workers. They were her friends, her family. Her father would not be pleased if he had any clue.

She twirls around in his chair when she is finally alone. No one knows of the extra cushion she has had fitted in the chair so she doesn’t look like a child behind the gigantic desk that is also her fathers’. She twirls around again and is reminded of her first and last time on a carousel. She stops twirling midway as she remembers the look on her father’s face as he watched her walk into the house that day, laden with all kinds of amusement park mementoes. Her aunt Mimi followed closely behind, laughing as she listened to her niece exaggerate the wonders they had both just seen.

“My daughter does not go parks”

“My daughter is not like ordinary children so she will not be mingling with the ordinary”

“Don’t test me Mimi. She is my daughter and not yours. I will take her away from you faster than you can take the next breath.”

“Her mother is dead. Stop trying to be her mother. If God meant for her to have a mother, He wouldn’t have let her mother die”

“Oma is my child, my daughter. She is meant for better things than clowns and amusement parks. Only fools need to be amused”

Oma had hid in her room like a coward and let her aunt fight that battle alone. She never went to another amusement park. Auntie Mimi stayed away for weeks but she showed up once her anger subsided.

“We can’t leave you to grow up grumpy like your old man, now can we? You need some sunshine in your life,” Her aunt had said when she finally returned from her self-imposed exile, bringing sweets and love, things every child needed to flourish.

“But I am really happy here Dad.” She told her father when he brought up going to finishing school in Switzerland.

“Happy?”

“Happiness and joy are for fools.”

“Success is the only form of happiness that matters.”

“You go where you are needed and when you are needed.”

“You are leaving tomorrow evening and that is all there is to it.”

And so off to Switzerland she went, leaving happiness behind for the fools in Ibadan. After Switzerland, it was London. She wasn’t looking for happiness either and so she didn’t find it in the rare rays of sunshine that burst through London’s fog and rain or in the stubborn bloom of flowers that ignored the onset of winter.

And then it was Pretoria. She wasn’t looking for happiness, that famous drug reserved for fools there either but she found it anyway in the arms of her professor. Soon school and her PHD were forgotten as she embraced foolishness with happiness.

5 months later and she found herself back in Ibadan. The man she called her father and the scourge of fools everywhere had come looking for her after several reports from his spies failed to sit well with his evening meal.

The day after she returned, her father had his first heart attack. He bounced back quickly and she forgave herself for almost killing her only parent. He had the second heart attack the day he found her throwing up in the early hours of the morning.

She took over the reins of his business and bought a cushion so she could sit properly on his chair. Besides, the bigger her belly grew, the more comfortable seating she needed. The bees worked and she reigned over them like the queen her father raised her to be. Only, she failed in the detached iciness department. She loved the bees and gave them as much as she took from them. The hive flourished.

She never heard from the professor again but she held no grudges. Her father had probably threatened him with worse things than death.

She gets up from the cushioned chair now and walks to the window of her office on the fifth floor. She puts her hands over the 7 month old protrusion and looks out into the night. The woman that stares back at her is no fool. It won’t be much longer now, she thinks to herself. She won’t have to stay wise for much longer…

************************************************

“Joy is for fools.”

And so her joyless father watches the days go by from his new wheelchair. She makes it home on time, every day, to cook him dinner like he never did for her. They eat in silence and then, she tucks him in for the night, every night like he never did her. She is dutiful but it is wasted on the joyless man that he is.

“Joy is for fools.”

And so he refuses to visit her or the baby while they are in the hospital. Even Mimi’s threats to starve him fail to budge him from the wheelchair he now calls home. He ignores the child’s wails when he cries for company in the middle of the night. He will not hold or look him in the face. He pays no attention when the child crawls towards his shiny chair and talks to him in the language of angels.

“Joy is for fools.”

And so Oma is resigned to finding bliss instead; pure bliss every time she holds the child in her arms, bliss in his tiny toes, bliss in the way he smells, bliss in the hope that swells her heart when his first steps are towards his grandfather’s wheelchair…

“Joy is for fools.”

And so she remembers to keep a part of her heart joyless; the part that loves the old man that sits on his wheelchair wasting away.

“Joy is for fools.”

And so he watches, from beside the window, as the child takes unsteady steps towards the pool. The nanny his daughter hired is nowhere to be found, and the child tests his mortality. He falls in with a joyous splash while his grandfather watches.

“Joy is for fools.”

And so Oma is resigned to finding bliss. Bliss in the laughter of her father and her son as they play hide and seek. Bliss in the gray head that nestles against the curly one of her child. Bliss in their welcoming eyes and smiles every time she walks in through the door.

Bliss in the memory of the day she found her father by the pool, his wheelchair overturned, his heart melted, and her son straining to get away from the teary old man who held onto him, a man afraid to let go of the bliss he had finally found.

Joy may be for fools, but bliss? Bliss is rare.

***************************************

“Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man”

Rabindranath Tagore

 

Song of the day: Jason Mraz- Love Someone

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